Quality Of Life Coalition Calls on SANDAG to Place Vision on Ballot

February 8, 2016 by Jim Miller

quality of lifeBy Jim Miller

In a recent interview, Naomi Klein discussed the reality facing anyone interested in promoting meaningful climate action.

The “structural problem” we face, according to Klein, is that people can “simultaneously understand the medium to long term risks of climate change” and still believe it is in their “short term economic [or political] interest” to continue business as usual.

This is precisely the situation concerned San Diegans face when dealing with the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) limited vision when it comes to taking the actions needed to address the pressing threat of climate change at the local level.

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Clinton Democrats in 2016: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

February 1, 2016 by Jim Miller

botticcelli inferno

By Jim Miller

Whatever happens in today’s Iowa caucuses, one thing is abundantly clear—when confronted with a credible challenge from the left in the form of the Bernie Sanders, the response of much of the leadership of the Democratic Party and their allies in the corporate media has been to defend the status quo with great zeal even if it meant borrowing tropes from the right.

Whether it was red-baiting from Thomas Freidman or condescension mixed with an appeal to “realism” from Paul Krugman, the drumbeat was loud and consistent: Sanders’ agenda, with it’s direct ties to the legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and FDR was simply an unrealistic option in the neoliberal era.

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Whither 2016 Ballot Measures?: The Oracle Jerry Brown Weighs In

January 25, 2016 by Jim Miller

Photo by Freedom To Marry

By Jim Miller

As I noted in my New Year’s column, many in California’s labor and progressive circles had high hopes for ballot measures extending Proposition 30’s taxes on the rich to fully fund education and for raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

But it did not take long for Governor Jerry Brown to rain on his presumed allies’ parade.

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Don’t Celebrate this MLK Day: American Oligarchy Is Killing the Dream

January 18, 2016 by Jim Miller

mlk statueBy Jim Miller

Don’t celebrate this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And please don’t clap for anyone talking about how far we’ve come.

Rather than engaging in the usual empty gestures accompanied by vanilla rhetoric that turns Dr. King into a saint, we should be railing against the fact that last week, by indicating that they are prepared to cripple public sector unions, the Supreme Court of the United States took another huge step in moving the country further and further away from the America that King fought for and eventually gave his life to make a reality.

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American Media in 2016: Those Afflicting the Comfortable Need Not Apply

January 11, 2016 by Jim Miller

NewsmanBy Jim Miller

Just before the New Year I highlighted Project Censored’s pick for the most underreported story of 2015—the fact that 2016 will be when the top 1% will control half of the world’s wealth).

In that same column I focused on two other largely ignored stories that broke subsequent to Project Censored’s annual report that also underline the perils of domestic and international economic inequality.

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Top 10 Political Hopes for 2016

January 4, 2016 by Jim Miller

via UFT via UFT

By Jim Miller

It’s a new year and a big one for politics. Here is my pragmatic political wish list for 2016:

1) That Donald Trump actually wins the Republican Presidential nomination and brings the entire Republican Party down when the sizable majority of Americans who hate his ideas vote out the party up and down the ticket.

2) That Bernie Sanders wins some primaries and continues to unsettle the Democratic Party and build momentum for a continuing progressive movement in our politics, win or lose.

3) That the lack of a mayor’s race will finally convince San Diego progressives …

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Censored 2015: The Most Underreported Story of the Year

December 28, 2015 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

As I wrote back in mid-October, Project Censored recently released their list of the most underreported stories of 2015. The number one story on their list features the news that 2016 will be the year when half of the world’s wealth will be controlled by the top 1%. More specifically, they document how:

According to the Oxfam report, the proportion of global wealth owned by the 1 percent has increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014 and is projected to reach 50 percent in 2016.

In October 2014, a prior Oxfam report, “Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Poverty,” revealed that the number of billionaires worldwide had more than doubled since the 2009 financial crisis, showing that, although those at the top have recovered quickly, the vast majority of the world’s population are far from reaping the benefits of any recent economic recovery.

Even more staggering, the world’s richest eighty-five people now hold the same amount of wealth as half the world’s poorest population. “Failure to tackle inequality will leave hundreds of millions trapped in poverty unnecessarily,” the report’s authors warned.

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Three Progressive Literary Stocking Stuffers for 2015

December 21, 2015 by Jim Miller

Santa Claus w dogBy Jim Miller

It’s Christmas week and as we do every year, the grown-ups in my family are keeping up the tradition of buying nothing for each other.

But for those of you who must endure the fear and loathing of the consumer frenzy, here is my annual list of books that might serve as good stocking stuffers for the alienated progressives or other likely suspects on your list (with a special focus on some of the best work that received less attention than it deserved):

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Donald Trump: The Pure Product of American Politics

December 14, 2015 by Jim Miller

Donald Trump :: Instant Karma :: GOP Primary Flavor

By Jim Miller

There’s been a lot of moral indignation recently in light of Donald Trump’s repugnant call to halt Muslim immigration and his fond remembrance of the American internment camps of the WWII era.

Indeed, some folks have even started using the “F” word, rightly noting the fascist tendencies that the Donald’s inflamed rhetoric appeals to and accurately comparing his calls to ban refugees to the shameful exclusion of Jews fleeing the Nazis.

But as righteous as it is to call out Trump’s ugly racism and xenophobia, there is something suspect about the assertion heard in many quarters that somehow now this outlier has “gone too far.” Indeed, the frequent portrayal of Trump as an aberrant figure who has stepped outside the boundaries of mainstream American political discourse simply protests too much.

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March and Rally for Climate Justice -Sat, Dec. 12

December 7, 2015 by Jim Miller

save the planetBy Jim Miller

Last week as the big climate talks kicked off in Paris it was my pleasure to co-host with Masada Disenhouse of SanDiego350 a community screening of Naomi Klein’s new film This Changes Everything.

We used this screening to help facilitate a discussion among folks from the local labor and environmental movements along with representatives from various community and student groups that was focused on the intersection between the climate crisis and the fight against economic inequality. Many folks expressed spirited opinions on how we might join the interests of the poor and workers with those fighting to save the planet.

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Nothing or Everything Changes After Paris

November 30, 2015 by Jim Miller

climate change terrorismBy Jim Miller

There has been much to be dismayed about in the wake of the horrible Paris (and Beirut) attacks, from the carnage itself to the ugly xenophobia it aroused in American politics to the sheer stupidity of the eternal return of the same that is the bipartisan hegemony on foreign policy.

The answer for everything is always an eye for an eye until the whole world is blind with little to no intelligent reflection on the blunders that got us here—that might mean a fundamental rethinking of our role in the world rather than yet another knee-jerk response.

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Excerpts From Sunshine/Noir II: Excavating San Diego Noir — A Jumping-Off Place

November 24, 2015 by Jim Miller

san diego noir

By Jim Miller

In Mike Davis’s seminal discussion of noir in City of Quartz he defines the genre as “a fantastic convergence of American ‘tough-guy’ realism, Weimar expressionism, and existentialized Marxism—all focused on unmasking a ‘bright, guilty place.’”

Born in the minds of the “Depression-crazed middle classes” of southern California, the “nightmare anti-myth of noir” trafficked in alienation and a distrust of the morality of capitalism. More specifically, Davis notes how “noir everywhere insinuated contempt for a depraved business culture while it ….”

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Clinton and the New Democrats’ Tired Third Way

November 23, 2015 by Jim Miller

dem socialismBy Jim Miller

Recently I noted how movements like the Fight for $15 and the insurgent Bernie Sanders campaign have revealed a widespread thirst for an overtly left politics that makes the battle against the billionaire class a central rallying cry.

Indeed, Sanders has continued to force Hillary Clinton to tack to the left on multiple issues, and he has had a genuinely transformative impact on the national political discourse by unashamedly bringing democratic socialism to the stage.

This is why Harold Meyerson argues that the Sanders’s campaign represents “the largest specifically left mobilization—and by ‘specifically left’ I mean it demands major changes in the distribution of income and wealth and major reforms to U.S. capitalism—that the nation has seen in at least half a century.”

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America’s Same Old Sad Story: Why the White Working Class is Killing Itself

November 16, 2015 by Jim Miller

despairBy Jim Miller

Last week brought us the stark news that America’s middle-aged white working class is killing itself.

Princeton economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case released a report documenting that:

The mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014.”

And strikingly, “rising annual death rates among this group are being driven not by the big killers like heart disease and diabetes but by an epidemic of suicides and afflictions stemming from substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.”

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Fighting for More than $15

November 9, 2015 by Jim Miller

Teachers, Students, and Community Fight for $15 and More

3:00 Rally and March on Tuesday Nov. 10th at City College near Park and B

f4f strike poster nov 10By Jim Miller

For progressives it is the worst of times and the best of times. As I noted on Labor Day, the American labor movement faces an existential crisis in the form of a looming Supreme Court decision that may essentially make the whole country “right to work” as the trend toward greater income inequality continues unabated.

Our sitting Democratic President has made pushing a terrible neoliberal trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, one of his legacy items, and the news on climate change seems to get worse by the day as our leaders bicker over half measures.

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The Day After the Day of the Dead

November 2, 2015 by Jim Miller

day of the dead robot

By Jim Miller

It’s the day after the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday which traditionally is both a time of remembrance of lost loved ones and a moment when the dead mock the pretenses of the living. Death is the leveler of rich and poor, proud and humble.

It reminds us that, in the end, all our bones are equal.

As Octavio Paz observes in “The Day of the Dead” from his classic book The Labyrinth of Solitude, “Death is a mirror which reflects the vain gesticulations of the living. The whole motley confusion of acts, omissions, regrets and hopes which is the life of each of us finds in death, not meaning or explanation, but an end.”

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Inequality for All in America’s Higher Education System

October 26, 2015 by Jim Miller

equity logoBy Jim Miller with Ian Duckles

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Thomas Piketty speak on economic inequality at UCSD.

In his talk, Piketty hit on the central themes of his seminal work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century: how our current level of economic inequality is now back to where it was before the “great compression” of the mid-twentieth century when union density, progressive taxation, and educational policies helped produce the high point of the American middle class.

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Bad News Not Reported: The Drift Toward Global Plutocracy Continues Unabated

October 19, 2015 by Jim Miller

plutocracy1-300x162By Jim Miller

Recently Thomas B. Edsall penned an interesting column in the New York Times asking “How Did the Democrats Become the Favorites of the Rich?” where he observed that while the gulf between the two parties is still very wide on many social issues, on economic issues, Democrats have “inched closer to the policy positions of conservatives, stepping back from championing the needs of working men and women, of the unemployed and of the so-called underclass.”

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Sunshine/Noir II: A Continuing Exploration of Literary San Diego and Tijuana

October 12, 2015 by Jim Miller

San Diego City Works Press Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Anthology:
“Sunshine/Noir II: Writing From San Diego and Tijuana”

Friday, October 16th at the Glashaus Mainspace
1815 Main Street in Barrio Logan
Sunshine Noir IIBy Jim Miller

This fall, San Diego City Works Press marks its 10th anniversary with the release of Sunshine/Noir II: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana, an anthology of local writing about San Diego edited by Kelly Mayhew and myself.

As we note in the introduction to the anthology:

It’s been ten years since San Diego City Works Press published its first book, Sunshine/Noir: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana and, much to our surprise in many ways, we are still here.

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San Diego Democrats to Progressive Base: We’re Just Not That Into You

October 5, 2015 by Jim Miller

via Facebook

By Jim Miller

Last week over at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Logan Jenkins had some fun pondering what might happen if the “Dems go dark” this upcoming mayoral election. His conclusion? It would push Faulconer to the top-tier of Republican candidates for Governor in 2018:

And, it should be deduced, a cakewalk sweetens Faulconer’s prospects in Sacramento.

In 18 months or so, Republicans will be looking for a governor candidate who can appeal to Latinos and independents as well as the conservative base. The Democrats have a long electable bench. Republicans? Not so much.

If Faulconer is re-elected by a landslide in a major Democratic city, he’s going to rise to the top tier of the GOP’s A+ list.

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Taking the Leap: Imagine a New World

September 28, 2015 by Jim Miller
Thumbnail image for Taking the Leap: Imagine a New World

By Jim Miller

Last week the Pope came to America and delivered his groundbreaking message about the interrelated problems of climate change and economic inequality as well as the moral imperative to act to address them.

We heard this message at the same time we learned that we have lost half the world’s marine animals since 1970 and that Exxon’s own research had confirmed the human role in climate change decades ago even as they were heavily funding efforts to block solutions.

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Answering Earth’s Call: An Interfaith Forum on Climate Justice

September 21, 2015 by Jim Miller

interfaith treeBy Jim Miller

Drawing inspiration from Pope Francis’s encyclical, the San Diego Coalition to Preserve our Common Home (SDCPCH) is holding an interfaith forum on climate justice this Thursday, September 24th at 7:00 PM at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The SDCPCH is comprised of people from many faith traditions as well as activists from local environmental, labor, and social justice organizations.

We’re presenting this forum in the face of increasing opposition to climate action on the part of those linked to fossil fuel interests. As Joe Romm recently pointed out in Climate Progress, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and his allies now “apparently believe the role of the ‘exceptional’ and ‘indispensable’ nation is to actively work to undermine the world’s best chance to save billions of people — including generations of Americans — from needless misery.” This is, Romm rightly notes, extraordinary:

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Against Work: We Need to Stop Glorifying the Wasting of Our Lives

September 14, 2015 by Jim Miller

worked to deathBy Jim Miller

Recently the New York Times did a thorough exposé of life inside Amazon’s “bruising workplace” where the managers celebrate what they call “Purposeful Darwinism.”

The focus of the piece was not on the poor folks turning around the goods in the warehouses but on the presumably more privileged white-collar workers who are encouraged to regularly challenge and report on one another when they are not busy answering texts at 3:00 AM or pushing themselves to work 80 hours a week.

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Happy Labor Day? The Jury is Still Out

September 7, 2015 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

Toward the end of June, as many liberals were cheering the Supreme Court’s unexpectedly nonpartisan legalization of same-sex marriage and its equally surprising upholding of the Affordable Care Act, they missed the signal of some potentially very bad news to come this fall.

Indeed, while it was fun to see the Republicans being frustrated by a high court of their own making, that very same court reserved the right to bring some serious pain to progressives for the long term by agreeing to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association in its next session.

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Disposable People: Obama, the TPP, and the Betrayal of Human Rights

August 31, 2015 by Jim Miller

tpp slaveryBy Jim Miller

During the lead-up to the vote on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) that the President narrowly won, Obama and his surrogates consistently suggested that those in labor and other allied groups opposing the deal were “fighting the last war” and were against “the most progressive trade agreement the world has ever seen.” Indeed, he even went so far as to accuse critics like Senator Elizabeth Warren of “making stuff up”.

As we know, Obama defeated labor and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and, in concert with Republicans and just enough New Democrats like San Diego’s own Scott Peters and Susan Davis, he succeeded in forwarding the multinational corporate agenda.

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Why Teach? In Defense of the Public Good

August 24, 2015 by Jim Miller

normal_education

By Jim Miller

These days it seems a new school year can’t start without being greeted by yet another pronouncement that my profession and/or higher education itself is heading for the dustbin of history.

Last year around this time, I pondered the proclaimed death of the English major and this year the front page of the most recent issue of Harper’s is bemoaning “The Neoliberal Arts: How College Sold Its Soul.”

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Ready for the Revolution? Clinton, Sanders, #BlackLivesMatter and Other Tales from the Campaign Trail

August 17, 2015 by Jim Miller

hillary clinton photo

By Jim Miller

Last week, Hillary Clinton paid a visit to her base in San Diego at a breakfast fundraiser in the home of Qualcomm executive Irwin Jacobs, which was billed as “A Conversation with Hillary.” Clinton arrived in a motorcade with two San Diego police cars and entered through the back door.

Of course, to be part of the conversation, you had to drop $1,000 to $2,700, the maximum contribution for an individual allowed under federal law.

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Staring Over the Brink: Obama, Brown, and High Stakes Climate Politics

August 10, 2015 by Jim Miller

on the brink 2By Jim Miller

President Obama made big news last week when he unveiled his plan to significantly reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants as part of his strategy to address the climate crisis. His speech was urgent, moving in fact, and showed that, at least rhetorically, he is committed to making this part of his legacy:

[W]e’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. And that’s why I committed the United States to leading the world on this challenge, because I believe there is such a thing as being too late.

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Ten Moments in Places that No Longer Exist in Downtown San Diego – Summer Chronicles #7

August 3, 2015 by Jim Miller

The maps of our memories fray like fine gauze

open signBy Jim Miller

We are where we are from. Place, our place or “home,” gives us a sense of rootedness and identity, but it is also transient, always moving and changing as we ride the river of time and space.

Some places are fundamentally grounded in a central idea of what “home” is, of what defines a locality—the people in such places hold fast, perhaps futilely, to some notion of what it means to be there.

Not us though, not here in San Diego where history and tradition outside of empty tourist spectacles are cast off like a snakeskin and our sense of place is transformed by the whims of boosters and marketing schemes, sometimes erasing whole communities in the service of civic marketing.

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Summer Chronicles #6: Lost in the Woods

July 27, 2015 by Jim Miller

redwood1a

By Jim Miller

Every year I make an effort to find my way to the deep woods. Living in California, we are lucky to have access to some of the world’s precious dwindling areas of real wilderness, including the last vestiges of old growth redwoods.

There, if you are intrepid enough to get out of your car and go a few miles past the first markers, you can still lose yourself in the ancient forest. Take a difficult trail and, after a while, you just might find yourself alone with the tall trees, banana slugs, birdsong, and bear scat.

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